Trolling for Trolls: Top Ten Really Nasty Comments From The Union-Tribune About San Diego Labor Leader

by on April 5, 2011 · 25 comments

in Labor, Media, Popular, San Diego

It’s been a while since we’ve given San Diego’s Daily Fishwrap any recognition.  This week we’re giving them plenty of love. After all, you can only write so many stories about the local flagship of dead tree journalism sinking along with its cargo of reactionary ideas. But sometimes you’ve gotta stop biting your tongue and say “enough already”.

Regardless of your feelings about unions, it’s pretty obvious that an epic struggle, particularly around public employee unions, is shaping up around the country. Republican dominated administrations in a dozen-plus state have introduced legislation that will have an adverse impact on virtually all forms of union activity.  There have been literally hundreds of rallies by pro-union activists, some attracting up to a half million people. Putting aside the politics of these situations, “something” is happening here that is engaging a lot of people in a lot of places with a lot of strong feelings.  You’d think that an enterprising local newspaper might take notice. And they have–mostly by ignoring it.

Three rallies over the past two months sponsored by union groups reacting to events occurring in the national arena have been studiously ignored by the UT. After an public event at the County Administration building that was well publicized, well attended and included participation from significant local elected officials, we called out the local paper for its failure to even send a reporter.  Frank Gormlie’s story here has all the details about these events, including a rally yesterday.

Today’s front page over at the paper gives extensive coverage to a “compromise” deal worked out over public employee pensions.  There are quotes from elected officials and “taxpayer advocates” about what a great thing this deal is. Did the newspaper send a reporter to ask a single public employee or union leader what they thought of the deal?  [Crickets….] Nope. It never occurred to them.

Lorena Gonzalez

But hey, you say, the Union-Trib did run a feature story about AFL-CIO leader Lorena Gonzalez in their Tuesday business section, right? Well, yes they did. And reading the comments posted online it becomes pretty obvious that this “radical” departure from the paper’s usual obliviousness towards organized labor, you have to wonder if their motivation was really about inflaming their collection of nutjob followers.

Take away the fact that Gonzalez represents the AFL-CIO and what you’d see is a strong woman, who comes from a humble background and has shattered both race and gender barriers. (She is both the first woman and person of color to attain leadership in her organization locally.) If the article had been about a corporation with over a hundred thousand local employees, they’d have been touting her as the embodiment of  the American dream. And, yes, she is also attractive.

As proof of our thesis here, we humbly offer a top ten list of comments posted online at SignOnSanDiego that made it past their “moderation” procedures. We wish this could be funny, but it’s not.

10. Perfect. They’ve put lipstick on the Union Pig.
9. She’s clearly well versed in the Communist Manifesto!!
8. So she wore “hooker shoes” to have her photo taken? Yikes!
7. Well, given what she is doing to the taxpayers….
6. Lorena looks a lot like my “massage therapist.” I wonder if she does any work on the side.
5. NICE, Lorena Gonzalez, real nice. And you wonder why union thugs are hated?
4. And if you don’t like hearing the term union thug, then get a non-union job.
3. Obliterate all union parasites.
2. Yep.  Straight from the great pacific garbage patch.

And the number one comment that manages to combine personal attack, racism and misogyny

1. This individual has nothing to contribute to Americans, what she is doing is despicable. No one forced her into the ‘business’ and no one has any right to promise her any taxpayer money for her nefarious political agenda. She is a perfect example of an ‘anchor baby’ still stuck on government’s teat – funded of course by un-questioning Americans, all of whom she despises.

Okay folks. Here’s your chance. Remember that our comments really are moderated, so you trolls out there will simply be adding to our collection of vintage spam.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Yushinsky April 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Nice piece Doug! I’ve been called a Union thug before, so I’m happily in great company!

It’s time to change the dialogue in this city and this country. We are not the enemy and corporations are not people!

It would be interesting to see how quickly the UT decided to moderate their comments and change their tenor if their advertisers were suddenly hit with an organized boycott.

Wrapping fish in the UT is akin to torture – and I’m against torture.


Goatskull April 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hmmmm. Anchor baby? Never mind the fact that her father while from Mexico IS a naturalized citizen, but hey don’t let facts get in the way. In a way though you still have to laugh at the comments. Most of those people don’t have the nads to ever go right up to someone’s face and say the things they say. In all fairness, and I say this as a liberal, I’ve seen some pretty kooky comments on my side as well. There’s always the usual comments like “republikkkans”, all the same kind of sweeping generalizations about people whose beliefs are different. I’ve seen some pretty insulting generalizations about military personnel and vets and as a retired vet myself I find them deeply offensive. But what can one do? Trolls are trolls and they come in all different shapes and sizes and political sides.


Lorena Gonzalez April 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Just to be clear. My father is not a US Citizen, he lives in this country legally. My mom, on the other hand, was born in the United States, as was her mother. I am very proud of my parents and what they did for my brothers and I to have a shot at the American Dream. But, I am no more or less an American-loving citizen than any other child of immigrant parents born in this Country. We are all Amercans.


Goatskull April 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I stand corrected Ms. Gonzalez.


dave rice April 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Regardless, thanks for stopping by and posting! And congratulations on your successes


annagrace April 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The U-T uses the frenzied mob comments to give their own equally reprehensible extreme positions a patina of being “civilized reasonable discourse” by comparison. Red meat&circuses to distract the citizenry from the well greased machinations of power.


butch April 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I agree with your post wholeheartedly, anna.

Reading the comment section over there is painful, although my favorite comments are those that “proofread” the story.


Andy Cohen April 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm

If you think the comments on the UT are bad, take a gander at the North County Times………YIKES!!!


Frank Gormlie April 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Whew!!!!!!!!!! Very well said, sister, Anna!


Andy Cohen April 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

There’s a reason that the only section of the UT that I typically read is the Sports section……


dave rice April 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Comments on the general affairs stuff make my brain hurt, but for some stupid reason I read them anyway. As far as someone talking about proofreading, there’s an article up right now that says the Padres lost 8-1 today…even worse is that the headline of the same article got the score correct.


Ryan Williams April 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Thank you for your service to the working class people of this country Lorena. You want to see truly disgusting comments, look at my local paper Wisconsin has become disgustingly polarized as the Governor and his cronies demonize State and Federal workers.

I stand in solidarity with my union brothers and sisters the world over.


thinking out loud April 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm

A bunch of comments about how bad the UT is…But it seems everybody on here reads it.


annagrace April 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

You bet I read it. I just won’t pay for it. I canceled my subscription a number of years ago. As an informed citizen I need to know how our one only newspaper pitches “the news. “


Andy Cohen April 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Do we have much of a choice? It’s the only major local publication, and thus it’s still the best place to find local news…….sadly. This is why monopolies are bad.


Goatskull April 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

SD city beat is better about local politics, at least from a progressive POV.


dave rice April 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

True, but they’ve shrunken to what, a dozen pages of content a week? And while an alt-weekly has the leeway to take a partisan stance, shouldn’t the sole local mainstream news provider at least take a halfhearted stab at objectivity?


Clayton Tschudy April 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I can’t help but notice that there seems to be not only a correlation between the shrinking of all paper news as the Internet grows in influence, but also as the City of San Diego becomes increasingly liberal the UT continuously shrinks. Whether there is a causal link there or not, it is clear the conservative bias of the UT does not represent its home city anymore. Political and business groups may still look to the UT as a flagship news service, for lack of an alternative, but the average Jose goes online, or dare I say, gets his local news from KPBS on the commute to work, if he pays attention to local news at all. I am embarrassed to say that I have never heard of the OB Rag before following a link from Facebook to this article. It seems all news is reduced to banners, headlines, and soundbites. I really hunger for the broadly focused but in-depth news stories of newspaper past. Especially for complex issues like this. Red meat and circuses, indeed.


Patty Jones April 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Welcome, Clayton, to the OB Rag!


dave rice April 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Well welcome aboard, Clayton! We make no bones here about being heavily liberal-biased, but then again we’re an alternative news source, what issues we cover we cover in depth and with context, and we’re not masquerading as a ‘just the facts, ma’am’ source of ‘straight’ news…hope you’ll stick around!


Goatskull April 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm

In my opinion, the comments as horrific as they can be just need to be taken with a grain of salt. As I’ve posted above, i’ve seen equally kooky posts on both sides of the political spectrum. And truth is, you never know what some poster really thinks. There are some who are such cowards that the only place they know they can get away with saying the crap they say is on a stupid online blog board like the U-T. On the other hand, there are probably people posting views they probably don’t even have just to see what kind of reaction they get. More often than not I just ignore the comments but once in a while curiosity gets the best of me.


annagrace April 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

The U-T online comment section continues to create a hostile and toxic environment for women. Four of the ten comments above are blatantly sexist in nature and this is the norm. Jeff Lightner is out of his mind nuts if he thinks that I would ever pay money to subscribe to a paper that lets comments like “Lorena looks a lot like my “massage therapist.” I wonder if she does any work on the side” and “So she wore “hooker shoes” to have her photo taken? Yikes!” to pass whatever moderation criteria they use. And he is deluded if he thinks I am alone in my assessment. The point is that Mr. Lightner frankly doesn’t give a damn.

If the U-T were to require a full name to comment, and some newspapers do, can you imagine how many of these commentators would disappear back into their dark dank swamps ? The U-T will never charge for their online content, nor moderate comments any differently because they need the rabble, the enraged masses. The trolls are indeed their pathetic minions.


o.b.dude April 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm

All you folks complaining about the U/T are wishing for something that never was, and never will be, in San Diego. The local paper is an unredeemable rag, a wretched excuse for a fair, thoughtful, interesting newspaper that respects readers views. It has always been thus, albeit with tiny occasional glimmerings of hope. The vast majority of reporters there are decent professionals, trying to do their jobs, smothered by the banality and small-mindedness of their anti-progressive overlords. That’s just the way it is. At least, let’s be thankful they aren’t the only loud local voice for news any more, but have been greatly diluted in power by all the other, more thoughtful, news outlets that have sprung up in recent years. Remember: the solution to polution is dilution. Long live many voices; the U/T just doesn’t matter that much anymore.


Gary Ghirardi April 6, 2011 at 4:54 am

“The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.” – John Swinton (NYTimes journalist, 1880)


Rick Ward aka mr.rick April 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm

The ombudsman wanted my particulars when I wrote a letter some 20 yrs ago.It was a letter to the editor and right there in the paper it clearly said that name, address accompany all letters to be considered for print.


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